On Thursday 55 members of the St. Michael's College community (myself included) left the lofty mountains of Vermont to protest in front of the state department in Washington D.C. Joined by some of Burlington's Congolese community, we held signs advocating for increased attention to the violent conflict in the Congo. Some of the signs read, "Peace in the Congo," and one of my favorite Martin Luther King Jr. quotes: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." The Burlington Free Press covered the Dear Hillary for the Congo event. Here is a photo of the rally taken from fellow blogger Trish Siplon:
Here I am with Alexsis and Sam, fellow SGACers:
Besides the rally, some members of the Student Global AIDS Campaign were in Washington to lobby on behalf of global health funding. Eight of us met with staff members representing Senator Patrick Leahy (VT, and a graduate of St. Michael's College), Senator John Kerry (MA), Senator Susan Collins (ME), and Senator Jeanne Shaheen (NH). During these meetings we discussed the importance of global health initiatives that would fight world AIDS.
However, we were told that global AIDS was not really a priority at that moment. That is because Friday April 8th was an especially strange day to be in the capital. Congressmen and women were trying to come to an agreement on 2011 fiscal year budget. All major news channels were warning of a complete government shutdown, and there we were, sitting amidst the decision making. Just a few of the ramifications of a government shutdown include- the closing of the Social Security office, tax refund would be delayed, passports would not be expedited, and National Parks and the Smithsonian museums would close. The last time this happened was in 1995.
Every open door in the Senate buildings showed meetings that were in progress. Staffers appeared frazzled while watching CNN reiterate what they already knew. Fortunately, the government shutdown was averted, at least for this week. We will see what happens on Wednesday, when the new-new deadline comes.